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UK: Putting Citizens at the Centre: an Overview of Citizenship DRC Research
Source: pathwaysthroughparticipation.org.uk
Source Date: Sunday, October 03, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Europe
Created: Oct 04, 2010

The Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability (Citizenship DRC) is an international network of researchers and activists exploring new forms of citizenship. It recently produced a short guide for policy-makers which pulls together some of the key findings of their research over the last 10 years.

The main headings of the report are: the outcomes of citizen engagement; the pathways of citizen engagement; the fragilities of citizenship in different settings and lessons for putting citizens at the centre. Naturally I was drawn to the section on pathways and particularly the comments relating to the role of associational life. The report concludes that while associations can be ’schools of democracy’ this is by no means automatic. It will largely depend on the nature and style of the associations, i.e. on what they do and how they do it. Some associations will in effect reproduce existing social inequalities and hierarchies, while others have the potential to challenge them.

In the document they often quote another recent output from Citizenship DRC, which focused on outcomes: So What difference does it make? Mapping the outcomes of citizen engagement. Based on 100 research studies of citizen engagement in 20 countries, it concludes that 75% of the outcomes were positive (including improved practices of participation; the strengthening of responsive and accountable states; and the development of inclusive and cohesive societies) and 25% were negative (including disempowerment and a reduced sense of agencies; a sense of meaningless, tokenistic, or manipulated participation; the use of new skills and alliances for corrupt or non-positive ends; and the elite capture of participatory processes).

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